Thursday, August 9, 2012

Did 'Operation Fast And Furious' have a cartel connection?

We've discussed the ongoing Operation Fast And Furious scandal in these pages on numerous occasions in the past.  Now comes a possibly false, but nevertheless intriguing claim from a Mexican drug cartel operative.  TheBlaze reports:

A high-ranking Mexican drug cartel operative currently in U.S. custody is making startling allegations that the failed federal gun-walking operation known as “Fast and Furious” isn’t what you think it is.

It wasn’t about tracking guns, it was about supplying them — all part of an elaborate agreement between the U.S. government and Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa Cartel to take down rival cartels.

The explosive allegations are being made by Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, known as the Sinaloa Cartel’s “logistics coordinator.” He was extradited to the Chicago last year to face federal drug charges.

Zambada-Niebla claims that under a “divide and conquer” strategy, the U.S. helped finance and arm the Sinaloa Cartel through Operation Fast and Furious in exchange for information that allowed the DEA, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other federal agencies to take down rival drug cartels. The Sinaloa Cartel was allegedly permitted to traffic massive amounts of drugs across the U.S. border from 2004 to 2009 — during both Fast and Furious and Bush-era gunrunning operations — as long as the intel kept coming.

. . .

The claims seem to fall in line with statements made last month by Guillermo Terrazas Villanueva, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state government in northern Mexico who said U.S. agencies ”don’t fight drug traffickers,“ instead ”they try to manage the drug trade.”

Also, U.S. officials have previously acknowledged working with the Sinaloa Cartel through another informant,  Humberto Loya-Castro. He is also allegedly a high-ranking member of the Sinaloa Cartel as well as a close confidant and lawyer of “El Chapo” Guzman.

. . .

Zambada-Niebla was arrested by Mexican soldiers in late March of 2009 after he met with DEA agents at a Mexico City hotel in a meeting arranged by Loya-Castro, though the U.S. government was not involved in his arrest. He was extradited to Chicago to face federal drug charges on Feb. 18, 2010. He is now being held in a Michigan prison after requesting to be moved from Chicago.

During his initial court proceedings, Zambada-Niebla continually stated that he was granted full immunity by the DEA in exchange for his cooperation. The agency, however, argues that an “official” immunity deal was never established though they admit he may have acted as an informant.

. . .

In their official response to Zambada-Niebla’s motion for discovery, the federal government confirmed the existence of “classified materials” regarding the case but argued they “do not support the defendant’s claim that he was promised immunity or public authority for his actions.”

Experts have expressed doubts that Zambada-Niebla had an official agreement with the U.S. government, however, agree Loya Castro probably did. Either way, the defense still wants to obtain DEA reports that detail the agency’s relationship with the Sinaloa Cartel and put the agents on the stand, under oath to testify.

The documents that detail the relationship between the federal government and the Sinaloa Cartel have still not been released or subjected to review — citing matters of national security.

There's much more at the link.  I highly recommend taking the time to read TheBlaze's report in full.

I'm well aware that a criminal, desperate to mitigate his sentence, may make all sorts of outlandish claims.  However, under the very murky circumstances surrounding 'Operation Fast And Furious' and its predecessors, and particularly given the government's reported unwillingness to release classified documents in this case . . . it makes me wonder.

I'd like to see greater courtroom discovery on this matter.  If there's even a shred of truth in the claims made by Mr. Zambada-Niebla, it'll be explosive, to say the least!  It might also go a long way towards explaining why the ATF and the Department of Justice have been so reluctant to admit the extent of their knowledge of the operation, and/or to release all the relevant documents to Congressional investigators.



Erik said...

Actually, it makes a lot of sense if you look at it from a leftist and statist point of view. The problem to them is that the market causes competition and fight for market shares.

If you remove competition (by playing favorites among the "companies") you will eventually end up with one single "company" (or cartel) which you can then allow to continue to operate as long as they dont cause you (ie the government) any major problems.

The upside for the company/cartel is that they'll get a government enforced monopoly that they dont have to fight to keep, and they are then left alone to sell their product at any price they want. Possibly with a few select government officials taking a cut of their profits.

SiGraybeard said...

By coincidence, I posted on this yesterday. One of my commenters pointed out that governments using illegal drug sales to fund their off-budget operations goes back at least to WWII, if not farther.

It's an ideal venue to skim money for whatever they want. It doesn't preclude that F&F really was intended as gun control ploy, it just adds another layer of corruption to it. With these guys in DC, a little extra corruption and personal profiteering is hardly a surprise.